The Korean peninsula has long been one of the centers of tension in the world, and in recent months the situation has become even more acute as a result of the new nuclear missile tests of the DPRK and unprecedented military maneuvers along its borders with US participation. The sides exchanged tough statements, not excluding all possible options for the development of the situation, including the military conflict.
Recall, in April last year, Pyongyang accelerated the implementation of its nuclear program. In response, US President Donald Trump began to threaten North Korea with total destruction, and the international community began to seriously fear the outbreak of World War III. Serious analysts have no doubt that the Trump administration's ultimate goal is the elimination of North Korea. Moreover, Washington also does not hide that the White House expects to inflict heavy damage to North Korea through an impenetrable economic blockade. However, neither the loud tirades of threats by the US president, nor the UN sanctions, nor large-scale military maneuvers near the borders of the DPRK, seem to stop Kim Jong-Un. So, on January 1, in a New Year's address to the nation, he declared: « We have completed the creation of our national nuclear forces. The nuclear button is on my desktop». According to the Korean leader, due to the fact that Pyongyang has nuclear deterrence forces, «the US can not start a war» against the DPRK. He also stressed that «the entire territory of the United States will be in the zone of defeat» if the DPRK potentially decides to strike a nuclear strike.
Apparently, the leader of North Korea is not bluffing. Although the IAEA does not have access to the DPRK nuclear facilities, the specialists of this international organization note the rapid take-off of the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. In particular, Pyongyang is rapidly conquering the barriers that Moscow and Washington have overcome over the years: intercontinental ballistic missiles, a hydrogen bomb, miniaturization of warheads. Suffice it to say that in order to modernize its nuclear missile forces only in 2017, Pyongyang conducted 24 launches of ballistic missiles and six nuclear tests. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Korea, these tests cost the DPRK budget more than $ 97 million.
Proceeding from this, it should be recognized that the threat of an armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula is greater than ever, and one thoughtless step can lead to disastrous consequences. And the consequences will be pernicious not only for the countries of East Asia, but also for other regions of the world. It is no coincidence that in December the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke about this at a meeting of the UN Security Council on the North Korean nuclear program. In particular, he urged all countries to dialogue, having warned that any mistakes could lead to a catastrophe.
For example, the Russian leadership has repeatedly stated that it does not recognize the Pyongyang's nuclear status. At the same time, starting from September 2017, Moscow consistently defends the thesis: the potential for sanctions against the DPRK has been exhausted, the policy of sanctions is not capable of solving the nuclear problem of North Korea, but only exacerbates the situation, increasing the threat of war.
Developing this idea, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: «We can not support the ideas that some of our partners continue to nurture and that are aimed at literally strangling North Korea with all the negative, tragic humanitarian consequences for the DPRK citizens». Lavrov also repeatedly pointed out that Moscow is ready to act as an intermediary in resolving the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken about the situation around the DPRK. In September 2017, Putin said that «the North Koreans will eat grass, but they will not give up on the nuclear program». According to him, the Americans are responsible for the failure of the six-party talks on the settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula. Putin stressed additional stringent demands from Washington led to a backlash from Pyongyang.
Putin touched on the North Korean problem also during his press conference on December 14. The Russian president said that «the position is well known, we do not recognize the nuclear status of North Korea, and we believe that everything that happens there is counterproductive». As for the relations between the US and the DPRK, «on both sides it is necessary to stop the escalation of the tension», stressed Putin.
Undoubtedly, for Moscow it is important to resolve the crisis around the DPRK. Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the APEC summit on November 10, 2017 in Vietnam's Danang discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In addition, on December 14 last year the Russian president discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula in a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump. Both leaders stressed the importance of «working together to resolve a very dangerous situation in North Korea».
It should be noted that the most important step to resolve the crisis around North Korea was the Joint Statement of the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministries on July 4, 2017, calling on the DPRK and the United States for a «double freeze», for an immediate reduction in levels of military activity and for the start of a dialogue. Moreover, Moscow and Beijing, apparently, are ready to come up with new initiatives that can affect not so much the DPRK as much as the US, with the aim of persuading them to negotiate.
In addition, it is impossible to ignore the efforts of Tokyo and Berlin in the settlement of the situation on the Korean peninsula. In particular, earlier this year, German and Japanese officials said they support the Moscow-Beijing plan to resolve the North Korean crisis and expect to continue close cooperation with Russia and China on the DPRK problem.
Perhaps the first step towards easing tension on the Korean peninsula will be the agreement between Pyongyang and Seoul to hold intergovernmental negotiations on January 9 to discuss ways to improve relations and the participation of North Korean athletes in the Olympics in Pyeongchang.
This step has already been supported by Russian diplomats. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on January 5, Moscow hopes that at the upcoming talks the representatives of the DPRK and the Republic of Korea will discuss not only the participation of athletes from North Korea in the Olympics, but also on the prospects for improving relations, as well as a political solution to the problems of the Korean peninsula.
According to him, Moscow calls on Washington to exercise utmost restraint in order not to undermine the chance for a political process on the Korean peninsula. Russia also considers it important that the announced readiness of the United States and the Republic of Korea to refrain from conducting exercises for the upcoming Olympic Games was implemented in practice.
«We will continue to work persistently and consistently with all parties in the interests of using each and every chance to improve the situation», the deputy minister resumed.